It’s a big trait of religious fakers to keep making exceptions as to why it’s ‘OK’ for them (and others…) to go against Torah law, when it’s not. The last thing I want to do is become a ‘religious faker’ myself.
God put very strict rules in place about lashon hara, to prevent individuals from shooting their mouths off about other people. I like to think I’m honest, and (fairly…) well-adjusted, but I’m still a biased, subjective human being who doesn’t understand everything, and may be missing a big part of the picture here. God forbid, I should ‘out’ someone as a faker (according to me) who turned out to be a hidden Tzaddik, or something.
That’s one very good reason I’m not getting into any ‘name and shame’ stuff.
A second good reason why is because for every one faker I’d expose publicly, there’s at least another 5 (or 10…or 100…or 1000). As I explain in the book: “Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav”, lots of people with very disturbing ‘erev rav’ characteristics come back in the time before Moshiach (i.e., now) and lots of these disturbed individuals try to push themselves forward as leaders of the Jewish people.
They want to make a name for themselves, they want to be honoured publicly, they want to control and manipulate other people, and boss them around, and act superior, and make a lot of cash, and be famous etc etc.
This is happening in both the secular and the religious Jewish worlds. So even if I told you who I’ve had difficulties with, that wouldn’t really help you so much, as there’s another few thousand fakers out who could dupe you just as easily, if you didn’t understand what you’re really dealing with.
So, what’s useful?
What’s useful is for me to describe the TRAITS of these people, and the modus operandi they often use, so that when you run into it yourself, you’ll hopefully be able to spot that ‘something’ might be off before you let them charm your socks off and ruin your life. And that’s what I’m trying to do in my blog posts, and also in my books, particularly Talk to God, in the chapters describing good emotional health habits, and the Erev Rav one.
That said, the following things will definitely help you to figure out if you might be sailing close to danger, as one of my correspondents poetically put it:
1. Do they talk lashon hara? - No authentic spiritual leader speaks negatively of their fellow Jew. This is something that I’ve noticed across the board with the fakers, they’re very good at putting other people down, and they use NAMES.
2. Do they ever apologise? Or do they make out like they’re completely infallible, even when they’ve been caught doing or saying something that wasn’t correct.
3. Do they try to come across as though they have all the answers, and know the mind of God? This is linked to the previous point about trying to create an impression that they are infallible, super-human people who know things no-one else knows. Again, this is baloney. The true Tzaddikim who really know things usually go to great pains to conceal it. Also, that level of ‘knowing’ comes wrapped in a level of personal piety and humility that the fakers simply don’t have, and couldn’t fake in a million years. Which is why they often do this:
4. Do they tell lots of stories and anecdotes about the ‘big tzaddikim’ they know personally, the huge amount of hitbodedut they do, or Torah learning they have, the billions of people they brought back to Yiddishkeit, and the millions of miracles they personally caused with their prayers? Again, real Tzaddikim just don’t do that stuff. What happens with real Tzaddikim is that the people around them - even strangers with no vested interest - are immediately struck by a palpable sense of their holiness and humility. With real Tzaddikim, it’s other people who are telling those stories, and more often than not it will be people with no prior connection.
With the fakers, it’s they themselves who are telling you how amazingly holy, brilliant and wonderful they are.If some outsider watched them for a whole day, they’d probably be struck by how superficial and selfish these rabbinic fakers actually are, as opposed to seeing them engaged in the many examples of super-human avodat Hashem they like to claim in their speeches, Facebook posts and podcasts.
5. Do they try and squeeze as much ‘juice’ out of you as possible, to help them let the world know how amazing they are? Because, man, people just can’t LIVE if they don’t have this person’s amazing insights, podcasts, books or musical CDS. (As an aside, it’s amazing to me how many fakers have a clear subconscious need to imitate Elvis Presley. It’s not enough to be on YouTube, they also want their album to be featured on MTV…)
6. Is their knowledge of halacha extremely shakey and limited? Another thing I’ve noticed about fakers is that because everything is fake, for show, they often have an extremely shakey grasp of halacha. People learn halacha because they want to understand how to fulfill the letter of the law, when it comes to God’s Torah and mitzvot. But when you’re only ‘frum’ to impress other people, you don’t really care so much about investing your private time in learning all that minutiae (or things like Torah learning, generally…)
7. Do they give off an ‘arrogant’ vibe, or a humble one? This is something you have to close your eyes for. Close your eyes, listen to the person speaking (etc) and then pay attention to what feeling starts to lurch up from your stomach. Do you feel caring and humility coming off this person, or are you starting to feel agitated, attacked and looked down upon, in some way?
8. Do they help you, when no-one else knows about it, and it’s difficult, and they won’t get any kudos or other benefit for it? Fakers excel at ‘staged events’ where they get a lot of honour, like guest speaking or officiating at weddings. They also deign to ‘help’ people they are getting help or money back from. But when you hit a bad patch - and you ran out of cash to donate, or time to spend on the fakers’ pet projects - did they help you get through it, or did they try to hustle you off the phone or out of their way ASAP?
9. Do they own an i-Phone? This one is completely clear-cut: no bona fide orthodox rabbi with true fear of heaven, LET ALONE A BIG TZADDIK, would carry around an i-Phone. As soon as they pull out their Samsung, run for the exit.
10. Do they go to Disneyland for vacations? And they still don’t see anything wrong with that?
As always, I could go on (and on and on and on….)
The last thing to say is the most important point of all:
Ask God to show you who is a bona fide Tzaddik and rabbi, and who is a faker.
When my husband and I started praying that prayer sincerely, we had two big-time fakers explode in our faces within a week of each other. It was an extremely painful period of time for us both, but with hindsight, I can see that those fakers were keeping us away from Hashem, and also keeping us away from true Tzaddikim like Rav Berland.
(As another aside, every single faker I know, Breslev or not, is against Rav Berland in some way, either subtly or more obviously. Only people who are truly connected to God have a clear picture of what’s going on with Rav Berland, which is why the nation’s Tzaddikim are 100% behind him.)
In the meantime, you can continue to educate yourself by picking up Talk to God - which you can download for free HERE, or Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav, which you can download for 99 cents, HERE.
In the next post, I’ll share what Rebbe Nachman has to say about fakers, or what he calls the ‘Luminaries of Fire’. Stay tuned!